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Outcome to Dog Set on Fire

Posted By SLCo Animal Services
July 15, 2022

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dixie rest in peace

Salt Lake City, UT – Salt Lake County Animal Services is satisfied with the sentencing of Michael Paul Busico, 41, who tortured a companion pet in the spring of 2021. Busico admitted guilt to setting Dixie, a 4 year-old Red Heeler, on fire after taking her from her yard in an effort to intimidate her family. The dog suffered from extensive 2nd and 3rd degree burns to most of her body and was euthanized because of her injuries. Busico was charged with felony Animal Cruelty for the torture of a companion animal, as well as other charges. Dixie was a victim of domestic violence.

This week, a judge sentenced Busico to one to 15 years in the Utah State Prison for the arson conviction, and up to five years for the animal cruelty conviction. The judge also ordered the sentences to run consecutively, meaning Busico could serve up to 20 years in prison if he serves his full time. (Credit: Jed Boal/KSL)

“The outcome of this case is a huge win for pets in Utah. This is a step in the right direction and emphasizes that animals cannot be tortured to manipulate and hurt other humans. Salt Lake County Animal Services hopes that these strict penalties will deter future animal and domestic abuse cases.” Talia Butler, Salt Lake County Animal Services Division Director.

“Our Animal Control Officers and staff are still devastated by what happened to Dixie,” said Butler. “No pet should suffer at the hands of a human. Throughout the years, our team has seen mistreated, and abused animals but this was not only horrific, but it was also an intentional attack against a companion animal.”

Salt Lake County Animal Services is grateful for the efforts of our Salt Lake County Animal Control officers, veterinary staff, the attorney’s assigned to the case, and everyone involved, including the community, that helped lead to this fair and just sentence.

“Our staff has never forgotten Dixie and the pain and suffering both she and her family went through. We’re hopeful this resolution can give Dixie’s family peace. Dixie’s legacy will live on in our community, and in our efforts to stop animal abuse universally,” says Butler.

Animal Services would like to remind pet owners, that violence against their pets by a loved one is a serious offense and asks that these cases be reported. To report an animal abuse or cruelty case call 801-840-4000 or email